Problems on several fronts for KNCB
Growing concerns about the direction being taken by the Dutch governing body (KNCB) came to a head this week with the news that the Youth Committee has resigned en bloc after long-running problems over policy and communication.
This is the latest – and potentially the most damaging – of a series of reverses confronting the KNCB Board, which took office fifteen months ago after a thorough review of the body’s structure and performance. Concern that little has changed has been steadily growing over recent months, and the indications are that the general meeting scheduled for 13 December could be a difficult one for the Board.
In addition to the mass resignation of the Youth Committee, the Umpires’ Committee has been dissolved and re-formed after splits within the existing group made its functioning problematic, and there have been further difficulties between the Board and its Accommodation Committee.
With continuing financial problems, little sign so far of increased sponsorship income, and a very restricted international programme which sees the national side idle between August 2007 and the next Intercontinental Cup matches in April 2008, the voices of criticism are mounting into a chorus.
Out-going Youth Committee chairman Gijs Tettelaar is understanding of the multiple problems facing the Board, but feels that his team has been let down.
‘They have a difficult job,’ he said this week, ‘but we were forced to the conclusion that there was a basic lack of interest in what we have been trying to achieve. There has also been poor communication between the Board and the Committee.
‘We were promised a policy document nine months ago, but so far nothing has been forthcoming. We have had meetings with [KNCB chairman] Marc Asselbergs and with Bart Lubbers, the Board member responsible for top-level cricket, but those discussions have made little practical difference.’
Tettelaar says that one specific issue that contributed to the decision to step down was the Board’s decision to concentrate its efforts on the age-groups from under-15 upwards, with the under-11 and under-13 squads being given much less attention.
‘They don’t recognise,’ he observes, ‘that in the Dutch context these younger age-groups are vitally important for developing the game. It may be different in Scotland and Ireland, but the boys who come into the national squads at this level just don’t have the basic skills.
‘They need the coaching and playing experience available through the Dutch Lions programme, because the clubs are mostly not in a position to provide it.’
Lack of consultation over the budget for youth cricket has also been a persistent source of dissatisfaction, and broke into the open as long ago as the previous general meeting in April. But the committee clearly feels that the warning signs have been ignored.
The decision to leave the Youth Committee, Tettelaar insists, does not mean that his group is abandoning its commitment to Dutch cricket.
‘We are planning to form an independent trust,’ he says, ‘and will be looking for outside funding to support international development tours for youth teams, a cricket camp next summer, and perhaps the establishment of an Academy.’
Further evidence of the mounting dissatisfaction across Dutch cricket is a letter which it is understood was sent to the Board last September by a group of 14 senior figures in the sport. It reportedly details up to ten areas of concern, and makes concrete proposals for a way forward.
Representatives of this group are reported to be meeting the Board this Friday, and the outcome of that discussion is likely to have a good deal of influence on the nature of the general meeting on 13 December.
KNCB chairman Marc Asselbergs regrets the decision of the Youth Committee to resign, which he sees as in large measure part of the inheritance which the new Board received from its predecessor.
‘We have tried to solve the underlying problems,’ he says, ‘but it has unfortunately proved impossible to do so. In these circumstances it was probably inevitable that the split would come, and its positive side is that we now have a chance to reorganise the youth structure for the future.’
The Board would be bringing proposals for the expansion of youth cricket to the December general meeting, as part of its larger plan for the development of Dutch cricket.
Asselbergs confirmed that the Board would be meeting authors of the September letter this week.
‘Their ideas are formulated a bit differently,’ he says, ‘but they generally cover the same ground as our own planning. We have taken the letter on board, and its thinking will no doubt be reflected in our presentation to the general meeting.’